If you were a filmmaker and wanted to recapture the spirit of ‘Team America’ – a hot-button satire, dressed in puerile clothes, full of smart film nods – in a British context, what story would you choose? Young brothers Edward and Rory McHenry, working with their father, production designer David McHenry, apply a similar extravaganza of bad taste, rendered with crude stop-motion animation and puppetry, to a counter-factual version of the Battle of Britain – one which adopts a tone a thousand times less solemn than Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Rollo’s ‘It Happened Here’. This time, the Nazis invade by digging a tunnel all the way to the West End, so foiling a lazy Churchill’s retirement plans, and march all the way to Hadrian’s Wall, where they have a final showdown with William Wallace – aka Mel Gibson – and his wild Scottish men.
Surely good satire needs to show courage and relevance? It’s hardly bold when your characterisations are familiar from ‘’Allo ’Allo!’ and your subject is 70 years old and done to death. Visually, the film can be fun: the characters, from Goebbels’s anaemic runt to a British spiv in a Kentish village are rendered as grotesque caricatures and the filmmakers lay on thick the tongue-in-cheek pyrotechnics and blood-letting. But the script feels like the product of a feeble, end-of-term university revue circa 1949. There’s even a running joke about ‘fannies’. A notable voice cast, including Ewan McGregor and Timothy Spall, makes very little mark at all. Profoundly silly, it should be. Pointless, it shouldn’t.